Qantas and Jetstar are set to boost daily return flights to New Zealand following the announcement the country is opening up quarantine free travel to Australians yet again in April.
The flag carrier and its subsidiary will operate 30 return flights per week across the Tasman on five routes, a major boost from the two previously running, according to the companies.
The flights will increase on 13 April, a day after fully vaccinated Australians are able to return to New Zealand without having to isolate, from 11:59pm on 12 April.
“New Zealand was Australia’s second biggest source of international visitors before the pandemic, and Australians were the biggest source of visitors to New Zealand, so this is an important milestone as part of the recovery for both countries,” said Qantas’ domestic and international CEO, Andrew David.
“With restriction-free travel possible from next month for Australians, we look forward to rebuilding our trans-Tasman flights.”
New Zealand will also welcome back fully vaccinated visitors from “visa-waiver” nations including the US, the UK, Japan, Singapore and Germany from midnight 1 May.
Travelers will still need to present a negative COVID-19 test before departure, and two rapid antigen tests within a week of arrival but will not need to isolate.
“We’re ready to welcome the world back,” Ardern said on Wednesday. “Now that we’re highly vaccinated and predicted to be off our Omicron peak, it’s now safe to open up.”
David said while the testing requirements may deter customers from travelling, its “important” to “normalize travel” between the two nations by “removing layers of testing” as Australian and New Zealand vaccination rates are some of the highest in the world.
Qantas will fly daily from Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney to Auckland and Sydney to Christchurch on its Boeing 737 aircraft and Airbus A330 aircraft.
Jetstar will operate three weekly flights from the Gold Coast to Auckland on its Airbus A320 jets.
While the weekly flights are small compared to the previous 170 Qantas and Jetstar operated before the pandemic, it marks a major step in recovery for Australia’s aviation industry, as New Zealand is one of its largest customers.
The two airlines will increase weekly flights in May and June and in the same time period will resume flights from Australia to Queenstown and Wellington.
The reopening announcement today is hoped to spur the return of more airlines to the region.
Auckland Airport said there are currently 13 airlines flying to 25 destinations from New Zealand, down from 29 airlines connecting to 43 international destinations pre-pandemic.
Overall, international traveller numbers at the airport have fallen more than 90 per cent to 2,900 per day, down from 30,000 per day pre-COVID.